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Course Breakdown


Mid-Semester Test: 28%
Essay: 10%
Laboratory Component: 20%
Exam: 42%

Course Information


Recommended textbook:
Molecular Cell Biology (7th ed) - Lodish et al. (2012)
Note that no one textbook adequately covers all of the course content.
Official UoA Website: link.

Basic Information

This paper was quite good in the fact that, like most other BIOSCI papers, the lectures were video recorded. The slides were also usually put up prior to the lecture.

Furthermore, the content was split so that you would only be tested for one half in the mid-semester test and the other half in the exam. The heavier weighting of the test (as compared to MEDSCIs) really helps with taking stress off for the exam.

There are five lecturers who each present their own topic across 7-8 lectures, which makes the course a bit easier to study for just because it is in very easily defined blocks. Generally in the test and the exam each lecturer will have an either/or essay question, however in the 2015 test Peter Metcalf's section did include MCQs.  

The prerequisites for this paper included both BIOSCI 201 and BIOSCI 203.

​Chris Squire was the course coordinator for 353 and was prompt to send us emails if there were issues with the recordings.


Laboratory Component

The six labs were split up such that 2 labs were dedicated to one topic. In 2015 the three blocks were run by Peter Metcalf, Debbie Hay and Nigel Birch. These labs are relatively simple but sometimes do end up taking a long time. Similarly the assignments were, for the most part, quite simple to follow, except for Nigel Birch's assignment which was a bit trickier and longer than the other two. As for all labs, make sure you understand what is expected of you in the assignment before you leave the lab to save yourself the headache of working it out by yourself.


Lecture Content

1. Intracellular Transport

This topic was lectured by Peter Metcalf, and has to do with transport vesicles between the Golgi, Endoplasmic Reticulum and plasma membrane as well as nuclear transport. His lectures slides often do not contain much information but do have the important diagrams from the textbook and he does tell you which sections of the textbook are important to read. I highly recommend reading the textbook in order to fully understand this lecture series and to be able to answer his questions well.


2. Membrane Transport

​David Christie lectures this topic, with the first chunk of lectures covering different membrane transporters and the last one being more clinical. He explains things thoroughly in the lectures and his slides contain the majority of the information you need to know. Make sure you look in the past papers for his questions as they tend to be on a few specific topics.

3. Autophagy

Chris Squire covers this topic with his usual hilarity and laid-back attitude, however do not be fooled in thinking he will mark you easily as he strongly recommends reading new research articles on autophagy in order to get a high mark. I definitely recommend going along to lectures as they are very enjoyable and he does make it very clear what you do not need to remember from his slides.


4. G-protein Coupled Receptors

Debbie Hay is the lecturer for this topic so it is recommended to bring coloured pens (4 colours will do) as she does drawings to explain certain concepts. The slides do not contain a lot of typed out information but have useful summary diagrams. However, she does provide a supplementary Word document on Cecil which covers everything from each lecture in a good amount of detail. As usual she is very organised which makes this topic much easier to digest.


5. Post-translational Modifications

This topic was taken by Nigel Birch. I would recommend going to the lectures as Nigel explains things well, however note that this topic can be quite tough as there are many different modifications that you will need to remember. Nigel likes to write down notes on the document camera but he does scan and upload these on Cecil. I would suggest bringing your course guide in for his lectures or just ensuring that you look over it for his section as he does refer to figure legends (not in the lecture slides) which are very informative.

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